Spider-Man: Homecoming and Writing

Opening weekend at the movies for Spider-Man: Homecoming was not as crowded as I had anticipated. I had bought my tickets the night before for the early bird showing which is always cheaper in my town. With my wife and my old school chum beside me with his wife, I sat back and waited to take in the latest iteration of Spidey.

Now, this is not a critique on the movie. As those of you may know who have read my posts before, I have been posting about superhero movies for some years now. The reason for that is because I love the genre and my novels are a close cousin to it though they will be more of a mix of urban fantasy, action adventure and science fiction along the lines of the television show 4400 meets Stranger Things or the upcoming movie with Idris Elba of the Stephen King book The Dark Tower  (and yes, I will be doing a special post on that as well). So, now you know what to expect in my books.

I expected a good movie. It’s Marvel so it’s pretty much a guarantee that they are going to put out some quality stuff. As much as some people may be tired of Spider-Man, I was and am not. However, what I got was not a good movie. What I got was a great movie and a huge part of it was because of the writing.

There were five or six writer s on this but it appears as if the main two were Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. What I noticed right away is that they understood Spider-Man. At his core, he is a young man trying his best to be a responsible hero. To run toward the danger when everyone else runs away. They wrote Peter with a lot of heart and that is dead on. Spider-Man has a lot of heart. You see this play out in two scenes of the move.

The first is when he’s attempts to break up an illegal arms transaction on the Staten Island Ferry. Through all of the commotion, the ferry is split in half and Spidey does an amazing job at using his webbing to to hold the two halves of the ferry together. It works for like two seconds and then Iron Man must come in to save the day because it doesn’t hold. But it was his effort, his determination that comes through in the writing. That’s Spidey.

In the second scene, the Vulture has literally dropped a building on him and leaves him for dead. He’s stuck, he’s crying and it looks like he’s going to give up when he sees a reflection of himself with half of his Spider-Man mask torn off and through force of will, lifts the rubble off his back. It’s classic Spider-Man and you can’t help but root for the kid.

This is also good writing. The reason why is, unlike Iron Man 3 where Stark has to be saved by Pepper (that movie was simply a debacle. I wrote about that and it wasn’t pretty). In this pivotal moment, the hero gains the respect of the movie-goer or the reader. He overcomes his own despondency when he needs to do it. He doe not get saved by someone else in the climax of the movie which is just lazy and bad writing. As a writer, you have to make people care about the protagonist. They want to see them triumph, by and large, by themselves. If you bring in someone to save their bacon at the pivotal moment of the story, you’ve just sold them out and made them less than in the eyes of the reader. It’s a huge let down and huge no-no (the movie Unbreakable by M. Night Shaymalan is another example of bad writing in this regard).

The writing really captured the essence of Spider-Man. These guys either did their research or are fans of Spider-Man because you can’t nail it like this by guessing (well…you could but not likely). Good acting helped as well but good acting only makes a good story better. That’s definitely what happened here. It was so good I will likely go see it again. The best Spider-Man yet just by a hair (I though Spider-Man 2 with Tobey Maguire was very good).

This is a good beginning for the franchise and I’ll be looking forward to next installment just to see if they can push the writing a bit further. It was a primer but it was a good primer so go see it for yourself and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Also, if you missed my last update, go and read my last post as it lays out some things that are-a-changin round these here parts.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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